New Venture Challenge offers $5,000 prize to winner

DAVID C. RIDINGS, Channels Staff

The New Venture Challenge presents a resourceful platform offered to City College as well as local high school students in order to launch business pitches for prizes.

Students are given the chance to share their business idea or product at the New Venture Challenge, which is judged for cash prizes up to $5,000 and marketing exposure.

“I love pitch day,” said Melissa Moreno, director of the Scheinfeld Center and manager of the New Venture Challenge. “It’s exciting seeing students go from knowing nothing about all of the pieces of business to becoming experts and pitching in such a professional way.”

Moreno’s New Venture Challenge team also includes Antwanette Ramirez, program assistant, and Susana Ortega.

The Spirit of Entrepreneurship Foundation raises money for the awards because using government grant money for student prizes isn’t accepted. Sponsors of the event include: Montecito Bank & Trust, lynda.com, The Bank of Santa Barbara and the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Foundation.

The judges this year include entrepreneurs Cathy O’Dell and Linda Weinman.

There are two-tiers in the competition. Tier-one consists of City College Students and tier-two are all high school students around the area.  The event is free for all who enter.

All teams are officially allowed to have five to a squad. Individuals are only allowed to work with one team per year. Each team must have a minimum of one student that is currently enrolled at City College or a local high school.

For each team, there must be one advisor, whether it’s a faculty member, professor or business mentor affiliated with every team.

The group is expected to submit an application form as well as a business plan with the proper signatures. All applicants must turn in a business idea that’s new or for a business that is less than a year old.

Independent readers from the Small Business Development Center, who choose to remain anonymous so they aren’t influenced, filter through all of the application forms sent in from City College and local high school applicants.

If aspiring entrepreneurs don’t follow all of the registration steps properly, they’ll be disqualified.

There are up to 10 finalists from both tiers that earn the opportunity to deliver their pitch at the final event. Of the 10 students that are chosen separately, three are selected to place from each-tier.

Past students that have participated in the New Venture Challenge benefited from an excellent marketing opportunity.

Former City College student, Ty Blunt, entered in the 2012 and 2013 New Venture Challenges and didn’t place.

That didn’t stop the 20-year-old from taking the initial idea and refining it after the New Venture Challenge experience.  Blunt was able to begin his own business in Arizona selling the same product he pitched at the New Venture Challenge.

“I’ve been running my own business in Arizona and my website, www.nailanywherekit.com, is up and ready for our launch in two months,” Blunt said. “It’s a multi-tool for the everyday woman with everything needed to trim nails on the go.”

There are many other students that have taken their business pitch to the next level after the competition.

“The biggest thing to do is to have your best idea ready and then go enter,” said Blunt. “If you don’t win, just continue on because your pitch gets seen by entrepreneurial experts.”

Some students are already active entrepreneurs, but the opportunity to pitch in front of potential investors is too good to pass up.

“I’m an international student that came here to explore new ideas and I already have my own business back home in Sweden,” said Gus Andersson. “I’m pretty self-confident when I have an idea going on but I have to make sure I have all my details in-line to win the New Venture Challenge and gain some publicity.”

The New Venture Challenge registration opens on March 7, 2014 and ends April 18, 2014. The event itself takes place on May 2, 2014. Their website, is available for more information.